Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 21, 2018

Glance Back

Aug 03, 2018

Glance Back (From The Washington Evening Journal, Friday, Aug. 1, 2008)

10 Years Ago

Halcyon House Executive Director Chris Marshall said today that due to the strong turnout at the Buckskin Rendezvous on Saturday, the show will become an annual event on the Halcyon House calendar.

It will be at least another month before the cities in Washington County receive a final draft of the proposed agreement for payment of communication services for next year, as the Washington County Communications Board Monday reached a consensus to include the funding formula.

One firefighter was taken to the hospital from the scene of a house fire … in Ainsworth Monday due to heat exhaustion. The Iowa State Fire Marshal’s office has determined the attic fire was accidental.

As members of five fire departments fought the blaze in the attic, shifts were rotated to allow the firefighters rest in the shade and water after they had been working inside the building.

20 Years Ago

MUSCATINE – The so-called experts said it could not be done. What do they know anyway? The Washington High School baseball team turned a lot of heads Friday night with a 10-2 victory over No. 1 ranked Davenport Assumption in the Class 3A, substate 5 final at Tom Bruner Field.

The Washington County Board of Supervisors this morning voted to have a contract drawn up between the county and John Hahn, of Washington. Under the contract, the county would pay Hahn over $8,600 to help Hahn’s scrap metal cleanup work in the county. County officials said today they hope that money will be reimbursed to the county through federal disaster assistance.

KALONA – Hannah Berg’s RBI single in the bottom of the seventh scored Jamie Krantz, lifting Mid-Prairie into the Class 2A, Region 8 final with a 4-3 victory over Solon.

Brighton’s Corrie Jaynes carded the first hole-in-one of her long golf career this morning on the fifth hole at the Washington Golf and Country Club.

Jaynes used a six iron in the 137-yard par three. She was playing with her father Steve.

30 Years Ago

DES MOINES – Brooks Taylor, news editor of The Washington Evening Journal, won a pair of writing awards in the 1987 Iowa Associated Press Managing Editors Newswriting Contest. Taylor captured second place for his news story on the 28E law-enforcement contract implemented by the city of Washington and Washington County last December. Taylor’s October story on Nick Smith, a Highland faculty member, who challenged the unified member requirement of the Highland Education Association and the National Education Association, received third place.

Richard L. Weeks, president of the board of Washington Federal Savings and Loan Association, announced today the appointment of Rick L. Hofer as a member of the board of directors of the local thrift institution. Hofer replaces Charles Satterfield, who recently resigned.

RIVERSIDE – The Nighthawk Restaurant and Lounge in Riverside celebrated its grand opening on Saturday.

40 Years Ago

The annual Stout reunion was held in July at Washington’s Sunset Park, with 47 members present. Mr. and Mrs. Stanley McCreedy presided at the business meeting.

Rudie J. Allison of R.J. Allison Jewelers, 732 Avenue G, Fort Madison, has been awarded the title of Registered Jeweler by the American Gem Society. Allison formerly lived in Washington.

The Brighton girls, 8-11 years old, won the Little Jets softball title in a tournament in Washington this last weekend.

50 Years Ago

A Fairfield contractor was the low bidder Tuesday in Ames on the grading of the proposed farm-to-market road that will run west and north from Crawfordsville. County engineer Bob Huber said the road will eventually be paved and will run from Crawfordsville to what is known as the Rex Smith corner on Highway 92 east of Washington.

Jim Lloyd, a Washington attorney, shot a sizzling 30 to tie the county course record at the Washington Country Club in a match played Wednesday. Lloyd was playing an early Twilight League match against Dick Paul and had only seven putts in nine holes of play.

Peggy Kephart, 17, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William H. Jones, rural Washington, was named Princess of the Southeast Iowa Parish of the Milking Shorthorn Association at the parish show held at the fairgrounds.


Comments (2)
Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Aug 17, 2018 21:41

Peters wants real healthcare reform

By Ed Noyes | Aug 16, 2018

To the editor:

I’m supporting Dr. Christopher Peters for U.S. Congress District 2 in Iowa this November, and anyone that wants real reforms to our healthcare industry should consider doing the same.

Dr. Peters supports the rights of Iowans to choose healthcare plans that they believe in. For too long, we’ve let Dave Loebsack and the rest of D.C. tell us what healthcare options we can and cannot pursue, and which insurance plans we can and cannot buy. It’s time southeast Iowans took our health back into our own hands.

Dr. Peters is a practicing surgeon who recognizes the limitations of modern treatment options and advocates for individuals to take responsibility for their own health. This quote is from his website: “Benjamin Franklin once said, ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’. … The most important aspect of prevention when it comes to your health is not what a physician can do for you, but what you can do for yourself.”

I think it’s time southeast Iowans started taking responsibility for our own health, and not let the government control what choices we wish to make.


- Ed Noyes, Fairfield

Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Aug 16, 2018 16:07

A patient table and electric shock therapy machine serve as a makeshift doctor’s office at the MHI Museum in Mt. Pleasant.

MT. PLEASANT (GTNS) – Footsteps echo down the hallway of the former Mental Health Institute, empty after closing their doors in 2015.

While the history of the 150-year institute was scattered among rooms and closets, now it is confined to one corner of the building, taking visitors through time as it transitioned from an asylum for the insane to a modern mental health facility.

The building of the former institute, which sits on the grounds of the Mt. Pleasant Correctional Facility, is being used as a museum to honor its history. The MHI Museum will host its debut opening from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 24, and will be open every other Friday. It is free to the public.

The museum was the idea and creation of Correctional Facility plant operations manager Jeremy Howk. What started as moving around boxes became something bigger after Howk took a trip to the Mental Health Institute in Independence and saw their three-floor museum.

“It’s hard for us that the Mental Health Institute did close, so we need to keep a piece of that history because it’s critical,” said Barb Wheeler, Associate Warden of Administration at the Correctional Facility.

The institute’s first patient arrived on Feb. 27, 1861. It was the first hospital in Iowa for mental health and possibly the first one west of the Mississippi River. At its peak, the Mental Health Institute, known by many names over the years, was a city in and of itself with its own farm operations, cattle, fire department and morgue with 1,500 patients.

In those days, people were committed for life for anything from alcoholism to fighting with a spouse to “hysteria.”

“The old medication they gave basically made patients zombies,” Wheeler said. “They didn’t understand paranoia, schizophrenia, psychosis. They were frightened of the behavior and didn’t have the knowledge.”

The quantity of patients and grueling hours made it difficult to keep nursing staff. Nurses were required to live on the premises, only leaving for a few hours once a week during an afternoon.

The history of the early days of the MHI is well documented through photographs dating back to the 1880s to newspaper articles.

One documented event is the fire of 1936. It broke out in the kitchen. As the institute evacuated, the community began coming out in droves to see what was happening.

“They couldn’t keep track of 800 people,” said Howk. “The community made a circle, a human chain, and grabbed hands. You’ll see it says 10 missing after hospital fire, but there actually wasn’t. There was one missing, but they found out she got out the day before by a bedsheet through the window.”

When the prison moved to Mt. Pleasant for overflow inmates in the 1970s, they joined the MHI campus, living in the building where the MHI Museum currently sits. It was a joint campus for the Department of Human Services and the Department of Corrections.

Although the community was wary of the correctional facility, the inmates proved useful to maintaining the grounds of the institute. There were plenty of maintenance jobs for defenders and plumbing and electrical work for them to learn trades.

“The prison really helped maintain this building when DHS had short funds,” Wheeler said, adding that overall the budget for the institute was very small.

As the prison grew and the patients at MHI diminished, the correctional facility and institute switched buildings in the 1980s. Where inmates are now housed was the original MHI. While the two entities were on the same campus, Wheeler said the coexisted in a very positive manner.

While there were only a dozen patients at MHI when they closed in 2015, the loss of services in Mt. Pleasant is deeply felt three years later.

“It’s far-reaching,” Wheeler said. “Every hospital in the area has people come in on 72-hour holds where there’s no place for them to immediately go. The inpatient hospitals are full up.”

Items at the museum include a makeshift doctors’ office complete with a dentistry chair, a straitjacket and an electric shock therapy machine from the 1980s. On the other side of the room sits a safe from the Civil War era.

The heavy metal box was found on the other end of the building. It took five inmates to push the safe to its location now. Once there, Howk had to figure out how to get it open.

“You’re in a prison. You’re bound to find a safe cracker,” Howk said in good humor. And sure enough, one of the inmates took a crack at it and had it open in just a few seconds. “We were hoping to find a bunch of confederate money in there. There was nothing,” he said.

The former MHI building is on the right of the grounds of the correctional facility. Howk is planning on having signs drawn up to direct museum visitors to the right location. The grand opening is Friday, Aug. 24.

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